I mention DNA scholarships from time to time in my 52 Ancestor articles and sometimes in conjunction with other projects as well.
What, exactly, is a DNA scholarship? Who gets one? How and why?
First, let’s talk a bit about the basics of how DNA works, because understanding that is fundamental to understanding why we have DNA scholarships in the first place, who qualifies and why. Not everyone has the DNA they need for testing specific genealogical lines – and scholarships are a way to obtain that information from others. I think of it as a testing incentive to someone who is already interested at some level.
Every person can test their DNA, but each person carries a unique and very important type of DNA from just one or two very specific ancestors.
DNA for Genealogy – Y and Mitochondrial
There are three kinds of DNA we can use for genealogy.
Mitochondrial DNA, carried by both males and females, is your mother’s mother’s mother’s line all the way up your tree until you run out of direct line mothers.
Y DNA, which only males carry, is inherited from the father’s father’s father’s direct paternal line which typically follows the surname.
The pedigree chart path of both Y (blue) and mitochondrial DNA (red) is shown on the pedigree chart below
You’ve probably noticed that the brother, or males, carry both blue Y DNA and red mitochondrial DNA, but the sister, or females, carry only red mitochondrial DNA.
Sisters, or females, pass mitochondrial DNA on to their offspring, but males don’t.
So, males can test for Y and mitochondrial DNA and females can only test for mitochondrial DNA. In either case, the mitochondrial DNA reflects the oldest direct matrilineal ancestor in that line.
Most (but not all) of the DNA scholarships that I offer are for Y and mitochondrial DNA lineages and Family Tree DNA is the only company that offers these types of genealogical tests.
The third kind of DNA for genetic genealogy is autosomal DNA which allows testing for all of your ancestral lines and provides matching to others who carry the same DNA. The trick is, of course, that you have to look at your common genealogy to figure out why your DNA matches, meaning which ancestor you share. Sometimes that quest is successful, and sometimes it isn’t.
The reason autosomal DNA matching works is because you and the person you match have inherited a piece of the same DNA from a common ancestor. In the above chart, the DNA of the ancestors is colored blue, yellow, green, etc. When you match someone else with a common segment, your goal is to determine which ancestor it came from.
Your autosomal DNA segments from any given ancestor become smaller and smaller over time with each generation, until eventually, they either become so small they don’t show up as matches, or you lose them altogether as more and more generations accrue between you and that ancestor. Ancestral DNA is “diluted” in a sense in every generation when the offspring receives half of each parent’s DNA. The chances of carrying a particular distant ancestor’s DNA become less in each generation.
However, the Y and mitochondrial DNA are never diluted, because they are never admixed with the DNA of the other parent. They are passed intact, and therefore they provide a periscope back into the very distant past, but ONLY for that particular line. In many cases, the haplogroup, or “clan” tells you a great deal about that ancestor, such as where they were from ancestrally. There are African, Native American, Asian, Jewish and European haplogroups, and yes of course there is some overlap between some of those, but we have advanced tools to deal with that too.
Combining Autosomal DNA with Y and Mitochondrial
If you can discover the Y and mitochondrial DNA haplogroup of each of the ancestors on your tree, you can tell a great deal about them that may well have washed out in the autosomal DNA. For example, in the colored graph above, let’s say that the blue male line is unquestionably Native American and carries a distinctive Native American Y haplogroup, C-P39.
Using this example, if the blue male great-grandfather is 100% Native, which is very unlikely today, the “son’s” and “daughter’s” autosomal DNA would reflect something like 12.5% Native heritage.
However, if the blue great grandfather was himself only one eighth Native, he would have carried roughly 6.25% total Native autosomal DNA and his children would carry roughly 3.25%. The father in this chart would carry roughly 1.63% Native autosomal DNA and the children in the chart, only .81 or less than 1%, an amount which is generally not recognizable on autosomal ethnicity tests today. It’s also possible that the Native autosomal DNA has “washed out” entirely by this time.
The good news is that the Y DNA is still 100% Native. So even though Native heritage may not be detectable today in the autosomal tests, it’s 100% confirmed in the Y DNA test for that line. This makes Y DNA a very powerful tool. Mitochondrial DNA works the very same way on the matrilineal line – it never gets diluted either.
But, what if your Native ancestor is not in either the Y (blue) or mitochondrial (red) lines that you can directly test for? What if your Native ancestor is in the yellow, green, pink, grey, gold or aqua lines. You won’t know what the DNA of those direct Y or mitochondrial lines tells you until you find someone appropriately descended from those lines to test.
You’ve now become a DNA beggar – begging for people who do descend from those lines through Y or mitochondrial DNA to test. If you’re a female, it can become immediately evident if you have no male siblings and your father is deceased. In this case, you can’t test your Y DNA directly (because you don’t have a Y chromosome,) but you desperately need those results to flesh out your genealogy.
The good news is that this same information is important to other people too and they DO carry the Y or mitochondrial DNA of the lineage you need.
I call this process creating your DNA pedigree chart. Here’s an example of mine with haplogroups, where known.
The good news is that sometimes people from those lineages have already tested and you may be able to find them through either surname projects, Ysearch or Mitosearch. When I can’t find someone who has already tested, I try various methods to recruit a suitable candidate and sweeten the pie by offering a DNA scholarship.
Given that you want other people to test their DNA to provide information for your common ancestor – the best way to obtain that is to offer to pay for the test. Hence, the DNA scholarship. Some people don’t feel comfortable if I say I’m paying for a test. Sometimes, in surname and haplogroup projects, people join forces to pay for tests for someone with a particular lineage. Regardless of who pays, or how, the result is that a DNA scholarship is available for someone of a particular lineage.
Looking for a DNA Scholarship?
You’d actually be surprised how many scholarships, or free DNA tests, are available. The ISOGG Wiki holds a list under the title of “Free DNA Tests” at this link.
The scholarships I offer, listed below, are for one person, and when someone has taken that one test, the scholarship is no longer available. I’ll update this list as I add scholarships and as they are (hopefully) redeemed.
Mitochondrial DNA Testing Scholarship for anyone who descends through any from the following people (or their female siblings) through all females only. In the current generation, meaning you, males can test so long as there are only females between the male and the ancestor.
- Frederica Moselman Lentz (1788 Germany-1863 Montgomery Co., Ohio) married to Jacob Lentz, Margaret Elizabeth Lentz Whitehead Miller (1822 Ohio -1903 Elkhart County, Indiana) married to John David Miller (1812-1902), Evaline Louise Miller Ferverda (1857 Elkhart County, IN -1939) married to Hiram B. Ferverda (1854-1925)
- Elizabeth, surname unknown married to Andrew McKee (c1766-1814 Washington Co., VA), Ann McKee Speak (1804/5-1840/50 Lee Co., VA) married to Charles Speak (1804/5-1840/50), Elizabeth Ann Speak Claxton/Clarkson (1832-1907 Hancock Co., TN) married to Samuel Claxton/Clarkson (1827-1876), Margaret Claxton/Clarkson Bolton (1851-1920 Hancock Co., TN) married to Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton (1853-1920)
- Ellen Martin Estes/Eastye (1605-1649), Ringwould, Kent, UK married Sylvester Eastye (1596-1647/49)
- Anne Woodward Eastes (1571-1630) Northborne and Ringwould, Kent married Robert Eastes (c1555-1616)
- Margaret Herrell Martin Bolton (c1810-c1892 Hancock Co., TN), Mary McDowell Herrell (1785-c1872), Isabel surname unknown, wife of Michael McDowell (1747 VA-1840 Claiborne Co., TN)
- Elizabeth Mary Angelicae Day Shepherd (17687/1699-c1750) Spotsylvania Co., VA married George Shepherd (c1700-1751)
- Mary Lytle Hickerson (1725-1793) married to Charles Hickerson (c1725 Stafford Co., VA – c1793 Wilkes Co., NC), Sarah Hickerson Vannoy (1752 – c1810) married to Daniel Vannoy, lived in Wilkes and Ashe Co., NC
- Mary Polly Phillips Johnson (1739-?) married Peter Johnson (c1715-1790 Allegheny Co., PA), Dorcas Johnson Dobkins (c1748 Dunsmore Co., VA -1831 Claiborne Co., TN) married Jacob Dobkins (1751-1833), Jane “Jenny” Dobkins Campbell (1778/80-1850/60 Claiborne Co., TN) married John Campbell (c1772/75-1838), Elizabeth Campbell Dodson (1802-1827/30) married Lazarus Dodson (1795-1861), Martha Ruthy Dodson Estes (1820-1903) married John Y. Estes (1818-1895), lived in Claiborne Co., TN
- Nancy Ann Moore Estes (c1785 Halifax Co., VA -1860/70 Claiborne Co., TN) married John R. Estes, Lucy (750/60-1830/40) surname unknown married William Moore (1750/1-1826) lived in Halifax Co., VA
- Mary Younger Estes (c1775-1820/30 Halifax Co., VA), Susanna (died before 1805) surname unknown but possibly Hart, married to Marcus Younger
- Luremia Combs Estes (1740/2 Amelia County, VA -1815/30 Halifax Co., VA) married Moses Estes (1742-1813)
- Barbara surname unknown but attributed to Brock (c1670-1721) married Abraham Estes (1747-1721) lived in Essex County, VA
- Lois McNiel Vannoy (c1786 Wilkes Co., NC -c1839 Claiborne Co., TN), Elizabeth Shepherd McNiel (1766 Spotsylvania Co., VA -1830/32 Claiborne Co., VA), Sarah Rash Shepherd (1748 Spotsylvania Co., VA -1829 Wilkes Co., NC), Mary Warren Rash (1726 Spotsylvania Co., VA -?) married Joseph Rash
- Mary, surname unknown, (c1750-1826) married to John Herrell/Harrold (1761-1828/30) lived in Wilkes County, NC
- Sallie, Sarah, Mary possibly Coates (c1740-1782/1787) wife of Reverend George McNiel (c1720-1805) lived in Wilkes Co., NC
- Hannah Mercer Crumley (c1742-c1773), mother Ann (1699/1705-1786/1790) surname given as Croat, wife of Edward Mercer, lived in Frederick Co., VA
- Catherine, possibly Gilkey or Bowen (1712-1791/2) married James Crumley, lived in Frederick County, VA
- Irena Charitas surname unknown (c1665-c1694) married to Johann Michael Mueller/Miller (1655-1695), Zollikoffen, Switzerland and Steinwenden, Germany
- Susanna Agnes Berchtol Mueller (1688-c1754), married Johann Michael Mueller/Miller, Anna Christina, surname unknown (c1666-c1696) married Hans Berchtol/Bechtel, lived in Konken/Krottelback, Germany, migrated from Switzerland
- Katharina Barbara Lemmert Kirsch (1807 Mutterstadt Germany -1889 Ripley County, Indiana) married Philip Jacob Kirsch, Gertraut Steiger Lemmert Weis or Weia (1783-c1829) Mutterstadt married Johann Jacob Lemmert, Maria Salona Reimer Steiger (1752-1791) Mutterstadt married Johann Philipp Steiger, Rosina Barbara Renner Reimer (1732-1773) Mutterstadt married Johann Jacob Reimer, Anna Barbara Raparlien Renner (1701-1750) Mutterstadt married Johann Adam Renner, Anna Barbara Hoertel Raparlien (1682-1735) Mutterstadt married Abraham Raparlien, Anna Catharina surname unknown (c1642-1709/10 Mutterstadt) married Johann Georg Hoertel
Y DNA Testing Scholarship for any male who descends from the following people through all males, meaning you carry the surname today:
- Berchtol, Hans (1641/53-1711) Konken/Krottelbach, Germany, wife Anna Christina or Hans Simon Berchtol/Bechtel, wife Catherine, living in Steinwenden, Germany in the same timeframe
- Bonnevie, Jacque dit “Beaumont” (c1660 Paris -1783 Port Royal, Acadia)
- Combs, John (c1705-1762) Amelia County, VA or brother George Combs (b 1701/05-c1765) lived in Charlotte County, VA
- Dorfler, Johann George (1732-1790), Speichersdorf and Wirbenz, Germany, married Anna Magdalena Buntzman, Johann Dorfler (1699-1779) Wirbenz married Anna Gerlin, Johann Dorfler (born c 1660) Wirbenz married Barbara Ehl
- Drechsel, George (1823-1908), born in Speichersdorf, Germany, died Aurora, Indiana in 1908, married Barbara Mehlheimer, son John Edward Drexler lived in Cincinnati married to Lizzie Theisinger
- Kirsch, Jacob (1841 Mutterstadt, Germany -1917 Aurora, Indiana) married to Barbara Drechsel, Philipp Jacob Kirsch (1806 Mutterstadt, Germany -1880 Ripley County, Indiana) married to Katharina Barbara Lemmert, Andreas Kirsch (1772-1819 Fussgoenheim, Germany) married Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler, Johann Valentin Kirsch (1744 Fussgoenheim – 1792 Carlberg, Germany) married Anna Margaretha Kirsch, Johann Wilheim Kirsch (b 1706 Fussgoenheim) married Maria Catharina Spanier, Johann Martin Kirsch (c1680 Fussgoenheim – 1741) married Anna Elisabetha Borstler, Johann Jacob Kirsch (c1660-Fussgoenheim-c1723) married Maria Catharina surname unknown, Jerg Kirsch (born c1630-died Fussgoenheim, Germany)
- Mann, John (1725 Ulster, Ireland-1774 Botetourt Co., VA) married Frances Carpenter
- Martin, Thomas (b 1577 Ringwould, Kent), father William Martin (died 1614)
- Mercer, Edward (c1704-1763) married Ann, lived in Frederick County, VA
- Woodrow/Woodward, Matthew born about 1550 probably Northborne, Kent